Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
You finally pick out the HDTV you've been saving for and just before you hand over the credit card at the store, the salesperson says you ought to purchase the extended warranty to protect your investment.
What's that? You don't want to spend an extra $200 for a "product service plan" on top of a $1,500 television?
"No," says Melissa Valentino from Consumer Reports, who says their advice for extended warranties hasn't changed much from its August 2010 report: "Skip extended warranties on most electronics as they aren't likely to break down during the extended service contract period," says Valentino.
"Service plans often cost more than you'll recover, and many have fine-print terms that can limit or disqualify your claim," she adds.
The report summary on television warranties is as follows:
It's generally not worth the money to buy an extended warranty for an LCD or plasma TV. Our survey data from thousands of TV buyers show that sets of both types from most major brands have had a very low rate of repairs for the first three years of use, and most repairs cost less than $200. A warranty often costs just as much if not more than that. Use a credit card that doubles your warranty, or shop at a retailer like Costco, which adds one year to the standard coverage. Detailed repair rates by brand are available to subscribers.
Consumer Reports also says to buy reliable brands and models, and follow the manufacturer's usage and maintenance recommendations.
You may be a Budweiser-guzzling ex-cop stripper who worships Buddha, carries a pistol, uses Viagra and supports Barack Obama, fine. Just don’t you dare mention any of those facts on your licence plate.
The provincial government does not allow vanity plates that contain “obscene,” “derogatory” or “racist” language or that refer to drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, criminal activity, law enforcement, public figures, politics, or religion. Bureaucrats who seem abnormally knowledgeable about offensive words — 11-year-old bureaucrats, perhaps? — have rejected more than 2,700 applications on these grounds since 2006, a list obtained via freedom of information request reveals.
Though the transportation ministry accepts more than 95 per cent of proposed plates, it has faced occasional criticism from rejectees who believe its criteria are too restrictive or that its employees apply them overzealously. In 2007, United Church Rev. Joanne Sorrill became a political cause célèbre after the ministry refused to renew her “REV JO” plate because it believed “rev” could encourage unsafe driving and because Rev “is an alcoholic cooler-type beverage.”
Premier Dalton McGuinty eventually stepped in to grant Sorrill the plate, calling the ministry’s behaviour “laughable.”
“This is a difficult job being done by sincere people, but it is an imperfect science,” the ministry said in an email, going on to explain that employees use such resources as Wikipedia and UrbanDictionary.com for research purposes. “Balancing the right of personal expression and community standards is no easy task.”
The Star is a family paper, so we have had to do a fair bit of censoring of the list of censored material. What we can tell you without scarring your children is the following.
MOB.BOSS got whacked. As did WHACKED. GLOCK.18, REVOLVOR, KRUZ.MSL and 22CALIBR were shot down. A.BOM was deemed a reference to violence, as was A.BAUM, which might have just been the first initial and last name of a nice Jewish boy.
OLDFARTS was thought obscene, self-effacing 4NEWFIES, CRZCZECH and SLUMDOG lumped in with the white supremacist ARYNRACE as racist. DRSEX, SHAG.BBY and R.HORNY, among many much-much-more-vulgar references to sex, failed to score plates.
The person who proposed OBAMACAN in 2008-09 was spared some 2010 embarrassment; the people who proposed ARSON, 1POACHER, HAACKER, GRNDTHFT, WARLORDS and GNPOSTAL were spared the attention of fire investigators, wildlife defenders, corporate IT managers, OPP detectives, the International Criminal Court and psychiatrists, respectively. Speaking of criminals and mental health professionals, the unfortunately ambiguous THERAPST was also rejected.
A 2008 advisory panel argued the ministry should allow “positive expressions of religious beliefs, religious titles, references to passages from scriptures, and religious celebrations, symbols and mythology.” Nonetheless, the ministry continues to prohibit all but religious titles, and more religion-referencing plates (740) were rejected than those that referred to sex (592), violence (435), and alcohol (241). Among the “religious” plates rejected were PASTRMOM, GNOSTIC, SOLARGOD, PRAISEJC, BUDDHAFA, ISLMWAY, OM.HARI and . . . HOLI.COW.
The ministry has a 10-member personalized licence plate review committee. It meets weekly.
Plates rejected between 2006 and 2010
Sample: S8NTJUDE, 4.SAINTS, B4.JESUS, B4CRHSIST, GODGIVEN, 6.DIABLO, AV.MARIA, BLESSED2, BUDDHAFA, DEVLL, FAITH.4U, GODSGOOD, GODSGR8, GODSP33D, HALAUJAH, HEISRISN, HOLI.COW, INFIDEL, JCREEPER, LAZARUS7, MINISTER, NASTY666, OHMYGOD, PASTRMOM, PRAISEJC, PSALM.24, PSALM.34, PSALM.72, PSALM.96, PSALMS24, SAAINTS, SINFUL64, TRYNITY, WRSHPHIM, IAMSAVED, JC.SAVES, ZEN.4, ENG666, 666ALEX, ANGEL.27, ANGEL.57, ANGEL4ME, ANOINTED, BLESSONE, BUDDHA.1, GNOSTIC, ISLMWAY, KAMASTRA, SHIV.SAI, SHIVSHIV, STR84GOD, AVEMARIE, HARERAMA, OM.HARI, SAI.SHIV, AMIEVIL, EVIL.INC, GODLUVSME, GODLUVYA, HADES1, HOLYMARY, KIRISHNA, LMBOFGOD, LOL.OMG, RAMADAN, SOLARGOD, SWASTIK, HEAVEN77. 121PSALM, 310.JOHN
Sample: D.GROPER, SHAG.BBY, SZEMATRZ, BIG.STUD, NICE.BUT, A.QUICKY, HAVNSEX, HOT.HUMP, HORNDWGS, STRIPPER, SCHAGUAR, LILHOOKR, VIBR80R, MY.GSPOT, DRSEX, F1.PIMP, GRGASM, ORGES, RGASMIC, SEXXX, XXXR8TD, 4PLAY66, FONDL, FRCHKISS, GDONTOP, LIL.SMUT, MAKINOUT, VETDREMS, MYVIAGRA, R.HORNY, FORPLAYY, HOT.BUNZ
Sample: 1BANDITO, A.BOM, A.BAUM, ARSON, ARTOFWAR, BUCKSHQT, BULLIES, BLOWDART, GLOCK.18, GANGBOSS, MILITIA, MOB.BOSS, TORRPEDO, WITCHHUNT, BLITZKRG, CRMESCNE, CRASHCRS, COLD.WAR, HIJACK3, ILSMACKU, PACNHEAT, EXPLOSIV, GRNDTHFT, SONOFSAM, STALKING, WHACKED, MALLKILR, REICH, TAZED, GN.SLNGR, GNPOSTL, LOCNLODE, REVOLVOR, TASER, SNIPERRR, YUNG.GUN, 1.COLT45, 1.GUNNER, 1.PISTOL, 1.WEAPON, 1POACHER, 22CALIBR, AKATTACK, BASSASIN, KRUZ.MSL, TOMMYGNN, EURO.KLR, KICKRDWN, WARLORDS
Sample: BACRDI, BOOTLEGR, BUDWISER, NOBUDWSR, COORSMAN, GRAPPA.1, GUINNES, GREATALE, MERLOW, RUMRUNER, TQILA, WINETOUR, UNCORKD, ALEHOUSE, AGEDWINE, BREWSKI, MOJITO.1, MOONSHNR, ONDAROX, BUONVINO, MY.THAI, SANGREA, CARLSBERG, DAIQUIRI, DRUNKARD, FINEWINE, MYCORONA, RED.WINE, WINE.GAL, WYNE.GUY, WHISKEY, ABSLOOT, CERVEZA, SLEEMAN
Sample: COCAINES, CRACKO, KRACKO, BLUNTZ, SHROOM.3, BLUEPILL, OVERDOSE, REEEFMSTR, GETSTOND, LIQDGOLD, MEHIGH, RIDINHIGH, RX.DEALR, FARMACST, BADFATTY, SMAKDADY, DRUGIST, PRPLEHAZ, QUAALUDE, SNORTER, TRAFKING, 420.TYME, ECSTASY, XXXXTACY, LEXSTASY, MYPROZAK, TRIP.OUT, THE.DUBE
Derogatory slang: 123
Sample: STUPDKID, EPH.U, FPMS, BUTTKICK, U.DONKEY, FUGLYSS, WAR.PIGS, JAKASJIM, SCHWANG, SHAPPENS, SHUD.IT, WTF.LOL, CHIENNE, FMYLFE, GRTYGURL, CRZYBTCH, HABZUK
Criminal activity: 15
Sample: CARJACKD, 1PITBULL, SCOFFLAW, HAACKER, CRYMPAYS, PYROBRAD, DEOFENDR
Sample: TAXESCUT, 44.OBAMA, BH.OBAMA, HOPEBAMA, OBAMA.44, OBAMACAN, AL.GOR, BILL.C38, EL.CHE01, NEXT.PM, ANARKEY, GM.RIP
Dignitaries/Law enforcement: 81
Sample: ICUFFEM, OLD.RCMP, SSGT.RET, CHECKCPIC, K9.UNIT1, GO2JAIL, L8ROFICR, BE.A.COP, PADIWAGN, SHERRIF, CHER.IFF, CIA.FBI1, GOVERNOR, HWYPATROL, LINEIMUP, LILCOPPR, OPP7324, OPP.2747, HYOFFICR, HIOFISER, NO.POPOS, RENTACOP, HARPER59, PMCANADA, OBAMA.09, NO.PIGS, X.RCMP, THEWARDN
Sample: CYNAMAN, CRZCZECH, GRINGO.1, IGOTRICE, 1SEXYWOP, PIEDNOIR, PACKEE, 4NEWFIES, ARYNRACE, ARYEN, GRINGOGRL, CRACKER7, DRTWTBOY, RCECOOKR, SLUMDOG, A.WHITEY, DTCHGEEK, GYPSY.V, MAMMY.B
Abusive/obscene language: 180
Sample: FRIG.OFF, OLDFARTS, SCHMUCK, OMFG, DAMM.5, FRIGGIT
Reason listed as “Unknown”: 1,075
BALLERRR, BDECEASED, FLYINBYU, GTO.HELL, INTMED8R, NICE.ASH, RDNCKGRL, RED.NEKK, REDNEC55, DUN.DEVL, THERAPST, 12INCHES, BAAAAAAA, BUBBIEZ, KOCKY, PORNKING, RACEGUY, RACEFANN
Monday, October 25, 2010
(CNN) -- A cargo ship seized by Somali pirates off the coast of Kenya was freed Monday after one day under siege, and the German-based Beluga Shipping company said its crew of 16 was unharmed.
The pirates were thwarted after the crew of the MV Beluga Fortune locked themselves in a panic room and switched off the main engine, cut off the fuel supply, blocked the bridge and reported the Indian Ocean attack to military forces, said Niels Stolberg, president and CEO of Beluga Shipping GmbH.
The pirates, seeking a million-dollar ransom, were unable to maintain control of the vessel, and naval forces were able to come to the rescue, Stolberg said in a statement. The vessel continued its journey to Richards Bay, South Africa.
"The excellent behavior of our colleagues on board made such a swift and happy ending of the capture possible," Stolberg said.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Every October, people can’t resist the pull of the pumpkin. Carvers go to work on their hand-picked gourds, eager to transform them into something spectacularly scary, or just plain spectacular.
Of course, in this life, there are pumpkin carvers and there are pumpkin carvers. And if pumpkin-carving were to become an Olympic event, Ray Villafane would be a contender for a gold medal.
The sculptor’s Halloween pumpkins are so hauntingly lifelike that they often inspire stunned silence and awe. He’s twice trounced competing carvers on TV on “Food Network Challenge: Outrageous Pumpkins,” and he’s attained a healthy fan base online.
Not bad for a guy who’s allergic to pumpkin. (His skin and eyes get really itchy after a couple of days of carving.) It’s also pretty impressive considering that Villafane’s first pumpkin-carving attempt in his 20s was a disaster.
“Yeah, it was horrible. It didn’t work out at all,” recalled Villafane, 41, of Bellaire, Mich. “I didn’t have the right tools. I used a spoon or something, you know? Really, really bad.”
From schoolteacher to sculptor
But Villafane didn’t give up. An experienced art teacher, he figured there must be a way to approach a pumpkin like a block of clay.
One day a student in the small rural school district where Villafane taught brought a big, homegrown pumpkin to class. He asked Villafane to take a stab at carving it.
“I gave it another try and it came out all right,” Villafane said. “The kids in the classroom all loved it and they started bringing in pumpkins for me. It got to the point where I would come into the school to teach, and I would have pumpkins lined up in front of my door with kids asking me, ‘Can you carve this for me?’ ‘Can you do this?’ ”
This went on for several years, giving Villafane the chance to practice carving plenty of pumpkins without having to pay for any of them. And at a certain point in his pumpkin-fueled journey, Villafane had an epiphany: He loved sculpting.
“I got turned on to sculpting as a different career choice,” Villafane said. “And it was good timing, too. My wife and I had five kids, and teaching just wasn’t cutting it financially.”
He began dabbling in wax and he started sculpting a wax figure of Wolverine from the movie “X-Men.”
“I posted my in-progress pictures online and I got an e-mail from Marvel Comics wanting me to do it,” Villafane said. “My first practice piece was my first job. I’ve never stopped since. I never even had to do a portfolio.”
Villafane stopped teaching about six years ago, and he’s been working from home and sculpting for Marvel, DC Comics, Warner Bros. and other outlets ever since. He’s created all sorts of collectible figurines from “Batman,” “Superman” and other beloved comic-book series, as well as collectibles from movies such as “Terminator,” “Ghost Rider” and “X-Men” and from the role-playing game World of Warcraft.
Two years ago Villafane also entered the sand-sculpting scene, and he’s been making a name for himself there as well. He just placed in the recent World Championship of Sand Sculpting competition in Federal Way, Wash., and he’s done big sand-sculpting jobs in Italy and Moscow.
“One of the things that impresses me most about Ray is his ability to transcend mediums,” said Villafane’s colleague Andy Bergholtz, chief sculptor for Sideshow Collectibles in Thousand Oaks, Calif. “He is not limited by any material. The man could sculpt the statue of David out of a stick of butter.”
So you want to be a pumpkin carver?
Through all the changes in his career, Villafane hasn’t forgotten his love of pumpkins. Even though he doesn’t have as much time these days to devote to pumpkin-carving, he enjoys helping other carvers perfect their craft. He posted a pumpkin-carving tutorial on his website, and in it he shares a couple of key ground rules:
—When strolling through a pumpkin patch, stay on high alert for thick pumpkins. Of course, you can’t actually tell how thick a pumpkin is until you cut into it, but as a general rule, thick pumpkins are heavy pumpkins. “Pick up three pumpkins of the same size,” Villafane advised. “If one feels much heavier than the others, it’s got a thick wall.”
—Go for an oblong shape rather than a perfectly round shape. Villafane finds that a taller, oblong shape is best for carving faces. “The best is oblong and, if you can imagine, compressed,” he said. “Find a pumpkin that’s been lying on its side so it looks compressed, and so it has a ridge running from top to bottom. You sculpt the face along the ridge.”
Another common question Villafane fields: Does he really make such intricate creations out of just one pumpkin? Surely he must be putting at least two different pumpkins together, right?
The answer: Nope. Villafane makes a point of carving just one solid pumpkin. Rarely he’ll use separate pumpkin meat to carve a few extra flourishes — say, the motorized snakes on Medusa’s head, or the tiny spikes on the Predator’s face, or the feather atop a Native American’s head — but other than that, you’re seeing just one pumpkin when you examine Villafane’s carvings. (If you’re intrigued, you can catch Villafane on the Food Network’s “Outrageous Pumpkins” challenge during the month of October.)
“Ray is a terrific problem solver and I think it shows in his work,” Bergholtz said. “He has always been one of the rare few that continues to push his limits and raise the bar for all of us.”
raised a glass of water and asked, 'How heavy is this glass of water?'
Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.
The lecturer replied, 'The absolute weight doesn't matter.
It depends on how long you try to hold it.
If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem..
If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.
If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.
In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.'
'And that's the way it is with stress management.
If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later,
the burden will become increasingly heavy:
and we won't be able to carry on. '
'As with the glass of water,
you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again..
When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.
So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down: don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow.
Whatever burdens you're carrying now,
let them down for a moment if you can.'
So, my friend, Put down anything that may be a burden to you right now. Don't pick it up again until after you've rested a while.
Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:
* Just accept that, some days, you're the pigeon:
and, some days, you're the statue.
* Always keep your words soft and sweet - ,
just in case you have to eat them.
* Always wear stuff that will make you look good
if you die in the middle of it.
*Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be
"recalled" by their maker.
* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again,
It was probably worth it.
* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to be kind to others.
* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time,
because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
* Nobody cares if you can't dance well.
Just get up and dance.
* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird,
* The second mouse gets the cheese.
* When everything's coming your way,
you're in the wrong lane.
* Birthdays are good for you.
The more you have, the longer you live.
* You may be only one person in the world,
But you may also be the world to one person.
* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
* We could learn a lot from crayons... Some are sharp; some are pretty; and some are dull. Some have weird names; and all are different colours;
but they all have to live in the same box.
*A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Ask the Legends: Brett Wilson
The Saskatchewan-born “capitalist with a heart” speaks with PROFIT editor Ian Portsmouth philanthropy, networking and raising the profile of Canadian entrepreneurship.
BRETT WILSON chairman
Prairie Merchant Corp., Calgary
Early in your career, you failed a management-aptitude test at Imperial Oil. What did that experience teach you about yourself?
It discouraged me at the time, because I believed I was on the management track at Esso. Part of my decision to go back to school [to pursue an MBA] was made on the basis of failing that test. They told me that I would be a great technical expert but that I wouldn’t fit the mould of the management track. It took me a long time to realize that all it really meant was that I wasn’t going to fit into a large, bureaucratic, monolithic, highly structured company.
The Prairie Merchant porfolio includes a wide range of businesses, from sports franchises to energy firms. How do you select your investments?
A lot depends on what upside I’m seeing. I have a really dirty rule of thumb that says if I think I can see double or triple [growth] over a three- to five-year period with an investment, I’m willing to risk losing that money. But if I’m getting an 8% return with a possible coupon or a possible kicker, I’m going to want that thing secured six ways to Sunday.
What do you look for when you’re listening to a pitch from an entrepreneur?
People pitching tend to feel they have to provide a smart answer to every question. I’m really comfortable if someone says, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” Sometimes, you get these half-baked answers from people who think they have to give an answer because they’re on TV or under the scrutiny of pitching a deal; they’ll give an answer you know isn’t quite right. You can sense that fairly quickly. I often ask questions with an idea of what the answer will be in mind. If I don’t get a good answer, they lose credibility.
You encourage entrepreneurs to view corporate social responsibility as an opportunity, not an obligation. Why?
I start with the premise that my charitable-giving program is about investing rather than giving it away. At FirstEnergy, we decided to use charity and community involvement to build our brand. We chose a 2.5% pretax profit threshold [to donate] and used it as our marketing budget. I can tell you, in the years I was running the firm—and I suspect it’s still true—there wasn’t a single request for funds from a client or staff member that went unheeded. We didn’t always give what they wanted, but we always gave them something. We respected that it was a branding and marketing opportunity that we could use to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. That was our thesis, and it proved to be true.
Do you personally find it difficult to say no to charities?
I tend to work with a cause, do what I can to help raise awareness and money, and then—this may sound harsh—abandon it. I move on, and hopefully I’ve left the charity working at a slightly higher plateau than where it was when I joined it. If they ask me to do it again, I’ll say, “I did what I could for you, and now I’m going to try to help someone else.” I’m a bit of a serial philanthropist.
How has joining the cast of Dragons’ Den changed life for you?
The whole concept of celebrity is somewhat new to me. I had a reasonably high profile in the Canadian business community before through the Young Presidents’ Organization and in Alberta and Saskatchewan through some of my charitable and business undertakings. But at a national level, I never dreamed of having recognition. I was sitting on an airplane the other day, and a woman carrying an eight-month-old baby and a two-and-a-half-year-old stopped. The woman turned to her child and said, “Hey, Robbie, it’s your favourite Dragon!” And I ended up giving a two-and-a-half-year-old a high-five. That wouldn’t have happened before. Ten minutes later, I turned to my partner, who was sitting with me, and said, “Did I really just high-five a two-and-a-half-year-old who loves my show?” “Yeah.” So, that was kind of a cool moment.
What do you get out of being on the program?
I’m the only Dragon who doesn’t have a brand to build around my business. Kevin O’Leary has mutual funds, Robert Herjavec has his Internet security company, Arlene Dickinson has her marketing business and Jim Treliving—well, if you don’t know he’s associated with Boston Pizza by now, you haven’t watched any of the shows. They’ve done a fabulous job of branding. But I’m the Dragon who doesn’t really want any calls. I don’t have a business that requires any kind of public persona or brand. So, I’m building this brand, and you might ask, “For what purpose?”
The real opportunity is to celebrate entrepreneurship. I’m doing what I can, in the academic world and the real world, to separate the idea of “small business” from “entrepreneurship.” Sometimes governments and academia tend to pigeonhole entrepreneurship; they say, “It’s just a little business; it’s not that important.” It’s not just something you do when you get fired and are out of a job; it’s a way of thinking. Dragons’ Den allows us to celebrate, respect and encourage entrepreneurship.
How did the experience of having cancer change you for the better?
We in the business world get pretty caught up in creating the next deal or chasing the next dollar. I admit I was part of that.
There are many reasons to acknowledge that the pace I was running at might have taken me down if cancer hadn’t. Cancer was the wake-up call, the stop button, the brakes—whatever you want to call it—that really gave me reason to reassess that pace.
Do you bring new values to the table in business now?
If you think that making another dollar is the only reason to be in business, you’re not the sort of person I really want to be in business with. There’s a sacrifice required to be successful in business, but that sacrifice shouldn’t be permanent, it shouldn’t be structural and it shouldn’t be at the expense of your family. And it often is.
You have three kids who are now grown. What can entrepreneurs do to ensure that their kids develop a sense of self-sufficiency despite their parents’ ability to satisfy their every whim?
I feel passionately about this. I think kids can get infected by what one of my friends calls “affluenza.” It’s an entitlement attitude; it takes away drive and motivation.
The whole concept of intergenerational wealth transfer needs to be addressed in a big way. I appear to be rich, but my children aren’t. I’ve been open with my kids. I’ve said, “My plans are to give away my entire portfolio, and that doesn’t really leave you with
much. You’re going to live a good life while I’m alive, and there might be something for you, but there won’t be enough for you to live off.”
My kids were given a little bit of money, in the context of the wealth we enjoy. And, with that little bit of money, we gave them great responsibility. We’ve managed to mitigate the expectation that the lifestyle of the rich and famous is available just by showing up.
How did your experience with a peer mentoring organization [the Young Presidents’ Organization] help you as a businessperson?
In many, many ways. There are several benefits. One is education. Two is networking. Sometimes, there’s a negative connotation associated with networking. But the people I know I can rely on and count on as friends, thanks to the Young Presidents’ Organization, are generally only one or two calls away from anyone I’d ever want to reach, and they’re incredible influencers in their own right. The amount of money that goes back and forth between businesses that I know in that network is incredible. And charitable requests—I can’t say no to any of them, because they come from people who have given to me without asking two questions. It’s just the way the world works. That network has proven to be invaluable.
Why do you think so many entrepreneurs don’t take advantage of the peer-mentoring opportunity?
I love the reasons people give for turning down joining these organizations. They say they’re too busy or can’t afford it.
I always say, somewhat facetiously, “Don’t worry, once you join, you won’t be busy, because none of the other people in the organization are busy. They’re just running companies like you.” I’m a pretty big proponent of these organizations. They provide a forum; you can get in a small group and discuss everything from family issues with a parent to intergenerational wealth transfer to appropriate compensation in a down market for senior employees. There is a wide range of things you can discuss with group members, because these people are living the same life you are. I certainly acknowledge that they take time, but anything worthwhile is going to take time. It’s a matter of setting priorities.
What do you consider to be the attribute that makes you most successful?
My willingness to bet on people. I’m not always right, but, more times than not, it’s people who solve a problem, not assets. I’ve often said that really great assets with a bad manager are of no interest to me, but a great manager with questionable assets? That’s something to work with.
Friday, October 22, 2010
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Anti-Virus - http://www.avast.com Free Version
Spyware - http://www.safer-networking.org Spybot S & D Teatimer is good :)
Root Kit - Combofix from bleepingcomputer.com and GMER from GMER.net
Malwarebytes.org with the quick scan is great too
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Ask the Legends: Kevin O'Leary
Kevin O'Leary, 56
Lives much of his childhood in developing nations due to his stepfather’s job with the U.N.’s International Labour Organization.
Earns a degree in environmental studies and psychology in 1977, and an MBA in 1980.
In 1983, he and partner Michael Perik launch SoftKey Software, which PROFIT names Canada’s Fastest-Growing Company in 1992. Subsequently acquires several educational software companies, including The Learning Co. (TLC), which becomes the company’s name.
In 1999, Mattel Toy Co. acquires TLC in an all-stock deal worth US$3.8 billion. O’Leary and Perik are soon let go after TLC proves not to be the cash cow Mattel had hoped for.
The experience sparks a new interest in investing. O’Leary becomes an outspoken critic of poor investment-management practices, earning a regular spot on TV’s Business News Network in 2003.
Joins the cast of CBC-TV’s Dragons’ Den in 2006 and Shark Tank on
ABC-TV in 2009.
Launches O’Leary Funds Management in 2009, which now boasts more than $1 billion under management.
How did growing up in several developing nations benefit you?
I wouldn’t have known it then, but it certainly has become a powerful motivation for what O’Leary Funds has become. It was very easy for a long time simply to buy Canadian assets and hope you could garner a good yield from that. Today, it’s far more challenging. We are going to have a slower GDP growth than the rest of the world because we are an aging population.
You’ve been described as someone who, even as a kid, has always had an “angle.” What made you so enterprising at a young age?
If you know you want something, why not ask for it? What’s the downside? All they can say is “No.” I learned early on, if there’s something I want, I’m prepared to ask again and again, and try to find the path to getting it. That’s also, I think, what defines an entrepreneur. You set a goal, you may not succeed the first time, but you keep trying.
Which of your fellow Dragons’ Den co-stars would best complement you in business?
The guy that I’m most in sync with is Jim Treliving [chairman and owner of Boston Pizza International Inc.]. My theme of investing now is far more conservative; I’m a value-yield investor. How much money do you have to tie up for how long before it becomes liquid again is the No. 1 question. I think, out of all the other Dragons, Jim’s the one who focuses on that the most.
Which Dragon would you pick if you were an operator rather than an investor?
I’d pick me, every time. I’ve had a fair amount of success, but I’ve also had a fair amount of failure. People don’t tend to focus on failures, but they are what make me a better investor and a better partner.
I think people spend too much time focusing on success and not enough on failure. I’d much prefer to invest in an entrepreneur who has failed three times than one who thinks he’s going to get it right the first time. The calluses you get, the experience of failure, are powerful things. I see too much vim and vigour in young entrepreneurs who don’t understand how hard it’s going to be.
What has your role in Dragons’ Den in Canada and Shark Tank in the U.S. told you about the difference between the two countries?
What I’ve learned about the U.S. market is that no matter how proprietary you think a deal is, when you get into the due-diligence phase, you’re going to find five other guys doing the same thing. That market is so competitive, so large and has so much potential, if you end up being the winner you often find a very similar business plan to any idea. That puts a lot more pressure on the due diligence in deals on Shark Tank that we don’t have in Canada. In Canada, you’re dealing with an economy that’s a tenth of the size. It’s easier to get stuff done here, particularly if you have an idea that’s groundbreaking. You can lift it off in the Canadian market and know you won’t have a lot of competition for the first two years.
What would you tell an aspiring entrepreneur about investor due diligence, which can be traumatizing?
Dragons’ Den works because it highlights the good, the bad and the ugly of the fundraising process. First, you have to present your idea; second, you have to convince the Dragons that you’re the right person to execute it, which is another huge challenge; third, everything you say—everything—has to check out, 100%. Just think about how often the tendency is for an entrepreneur to embellish a statement, or perhaps add an element of optimism that shouldn’t be there. Think of how much that frustrates an investor later, when they send in their lawyers and auditors. I mean, I’ll tear you apart six times. If one thing falls apart, that’s a huge problem for me.
Others on the panel care about the emotional aspect of this; they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. This is business. It’s war, it’s competitive, it’s hard. And if you can’t take the heat, don’t come in.
What makes for a great leader?
To me, great leadership is being able to stand up in a room full of your employees and say, “This is the goal. It’s the only thing that matters.”
If leaders can’t articulate the short-term, medium-term and long-term goals of their company and stay on message, they’re going to fail.
When you refused to scrape gum off the floor of an ice-cream parlour you worked in as a teenager, you were promptly fired. What did that teach you?
I considered it a demeaning role I hadn’t signed up for. When I got terminated, I had no say in the matter. That is what affected me. I have to be in control of my environment—and you can’t be in control when you’re an employee. And I think that is the motivational drive of most entrepreneurs.
This is why PETA usually protests women wearing fur rather than bikers wearing leather. Sounds to me like the old saying, "you mess with the bull, and you get the horns". Gee, I guess these characters thought that Bikers were going to be politically correct like the rest of the wimpy world. HERE'S HOW POLICE FOUND ONE OF THEM.
Johnstown, PA (GlossyNews) - Local and state police scoured the hills outside rural Johnstown, Pennsylvania, after reports of three animal rights activists going missing after attempting to protest the wearing of leather at a large motorcycle gang rally this weekend. Two others, previously reported missing, were discovered by fast food workers "duct taped inside fast food restaurant dumpsters," according to police officials.
"Something just went wrong,"said a still visibly shaken organizer of the protest. "Something just went horribly, horribly, wrong."The organizer said a group of concerned animal rights activist groups, "growing tired of throwing fake blood and shouting profanities at older women wearing leather or fur coats," decided to protest the annual motorcycle club event "in a hope to show them our outrage at their wanton use of leather in their clothing and motor bike seats." "In fact," said the organizer, "motorcycle gangs are one of the biggest abusers of wearing leather, and we decided it was high time that we let them know that we disagree with them using it. ergo, they should stop."
According to witnesses, protesters arrived at the event in a vintage 1960's era Volkswagen van and began to pelt the gang members with balloons filled with red colored water, simulating blood, and shouting "you're murderers" to passers by. This, evidently, is when the brouhaha began.
"They peed on me!!!" charged one activist. "They grabbed me, said I looked like I was French, started calling me 'La Trene' and duct taped me to a tree so they could pee on me all day!"
Still others claimed they were forced to eat hamburgers and hot dogs under duress. Those who resisted were allegedly held down while several bikers "farted on their heads."
Police officials declined comments on any leads or arrests due to the ongoing nature of the investigation; however, organizers for the motorcycle club rally expressed "surprise" at the allegations.
"That's preposterous,"said one high-ranking member of the biker organizing committee. "We were having a party, and these people showed up and were very rude to us. They threw things at us, called us names, and tried to ruin the entire event. So, what did we do? We invited them to the party! What could be more friendly than that? You know, just because we are all members of motorcycle clubs does not mean we do not care about inclusiveness. Personally, I think it shows a lack of character for them to be saying such nasty things about us after we bent over backwards to make them feel welcome."
When confronted with the allegations of force-feeding the activist's meat, using them as ad hoc latrines, leaving them incapacitated in fast food restaurant dumpsters, and 'farting on their heads,' the organizer declined to comment in detail. "That's just our secret handshake,"assured the organizer.
Its A Joke Folks
Monday, October 11, 2010
The Seven Acts of Mercy
1. Bury the dead; In the background two men carry a dead man you can sees his feet
2 & 3. Visit the imprisoned & Feed the hungry; On the left a daughter visits her imprisoned father and gives him milk from her bosom.
4. Shelter the Homeless; A Pilgrim (you can tell by the shell in his hat 3rd from the left) seeks shelter from an innkeeper on the left.
5. Visit the sick; The beggar being given the robe is crippled and pulls himself along on the ground and St Martin greet him and clothes him.
6. Clothe the naked; St Martin 4th from the left has torn his robe in half and given it to the beggar.
7. Give drink to the thirsty; On the right Samson (second from the left) drinks water from the jawbone of an ass.
Beginning in Rome, art critic Waldemar Januszczak details the birth of the Baroque tradition as it burst forth in Italy, with footage of St Peter's Basilica and other gems of the Italian Baroque.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Recently I lost a friend named Ed Mielczarek to Cancer at age 64. He never even had a chance to retire and was working hard when he learned of his health crisis with Cancer which claimed him less then 1 year later.
But he lives on in everyone who remembers him. So I wanted to say that Ed was a good friend.
We travelled to New Orleans the year before Katrina with Ed and his wife Donna and another couple. We had a wonderful times together.
And Ed Mielczarek was a true family man , supportive to his kids and grandkids and his marriage lasted for his adult lifetime. He was a gentleman accountant.
He was a hard working , generous, charming, a soft spoken intuitive , funny man, who I would call my friend.
because he deserves the best. Ed this magic is for you!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
"wet weather friends"
I adopted them in the rain ...
And The Beaver
We had a little contest to see which one would come back for the last peanut in the rain Tuesday .
Fearless won this little contest. Hey life is a game of nuts!
And so I enter it into Survival Journals as a lesson for us all
Rain Or Shine, Prepare for the inevitable winter periods in our lives. Be hard working , smart and determined as Fearless and the Beaver!
I made sure that there was always a peanut waiting for them. and Fearless and Beaver continued coming back in the rain and they never gave up, till it got dark. Update:they were back 7am the next morning ready for nuts!
In my wild imagination, I imagine that they had the hope that maybe just maybe I left them another nut. And they fought their way back thru the rain and then were rewarded.
We developed a circle of trust.
Just 2 squirrels preparing for a cold winter.
The Survival Instinct
And then Tiger showed up...when my Mainecoon went outdoors the squirrels were not scared off, my cat Tiger II stood by while the squirrels gathered nuts.
The squirrel never attacked Tiger II and Tiger II was in no mood for fight with this squirrel. Beaver ran over and got the nut and didn't pick a fight. And Tiger was smart enough to stay calm. We can learn a lesson from these 2 squirrels.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Dock Phillip Ellis, Jr. (March 11, 1945 – December 19, 2008) was a Major League Baseball player who pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, among other teams. His best season was 1971, when he won 19 games for the World Series champion Pirates and was the starting pitcher for the National League in the All-Star Game. However, he is perhaps best remembered for throwing a no-hitter in 1970 and later stating that he had done it while under the influence of LSD.
As Ellis recounted it:
The incident inspired the songs "Dock Ellis" by indie rock singer Barbara Manning, "America's Favorite Pastime" by folk singer Todd Snider, "Dock Ellis' No-No" by Chuck Brodsky, and "LSD (The Ballad of Doc Ellis)" by Boston rock band Random Road Mother. Robin Williams has incorporated the tale into a standup routine for HBO  An animated short film about the game, "Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No", features narration in Ellis's own voice, taken from a 2008 radio interview.
I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the (catcher's) glove, but I didn't hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn't hit hard and never reached me.
Not even Halladay was prepared for no-hitter Oct 6th 2010
By Phil Sheridan
Inquirer Sports Columnist
Roy Halladay came to Philadelphia for the chance to make it to the postseason. All he did Wednesday night was make postseason history.
On a chilly night, through a three-inning rainfall, the big bearded righthander they call "Doc" threw just the second postseason no-hitter in Major League Baseball's long history. Halladay allowed just one Cincinnati Red to reach base. That walk was all that kept him from equaling Don Larsen's 1956 World Series perfect game.
Halladay, who threw a perfect game himself back on May 29, created another indelible baseball memory for a team and a city that have had so much to celebrate the last several Octobers. By dominating the Reds, the champions of the National League's Central Division, Halladay gave the Phillies a 4-0 victory in Game 1 of this best-of-five NL division series.
And it was the focus on that, on winning an important playoff game, that allowed Halladay to wave off the building pressure of his no-hit, no-run performance. He even drove in one of the Phillies' runs with a hit.
"It's something I wasn't real worried about achieving," Halladay said of the no-hitter. "I think if you're not putting too much emphasis on trying to throw a no-hitter, you're going out and staying aggressive. It makes it a lot easier."
His teammates and the sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park were feeling the pressure for him. As the game wore on - as the number of outs remaining dwindled to nine, then six, then three - the Phillies' dugout grew quieter while the frenzied towel-waving fans grew louder and more excited.
"About the sixth inning, it got real quiet," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "People stayed in their seats and sat there and watched the game. [Halladay] came in and went down to the end of the dugout, sat in his chair, and didn't say a word. End of the inning, he'd get back up and go back on the field. It's pretty neat, really."
Out in the bullpen, the relief pitchers also stayed put. No one wants to change the energy or put a jinx on a pitcher with a no-hitter. One reliever needed to relieve himself, but Ryan Madson said he had remained in place until Halladay secured the final out.
The Phillies are in the postseason for the fourth consecutive October, and the ballpark had been louder only a handful of times before: when Brad Lidge got the final out of the 2008 World Series and after a couple of other series-clinching wins.
The quiet of his teammates didn't pierce Halladay's otherworldly focus. The sonic boom of the fans did.
"When it gets that loud," he said, "it's hard to ignore. I thought especially the last three innings, it seemed like it got louder every inning. It was a lot of fun."
The day started normally enough. Halladay got to the ballpark at his usual time. He said he had tried to treat his first postseason start as a normal workday, to "disconnect yourself from the emotions a little bit." Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who usually says a few words to Halladay, decided not to before this game.
"I said, 'Roy looks like he's in a different world right now,' " Rollins said.
What a world it turned out to be. Halladay was so good, so nearly mechanical, that there was little of the usual drama that surrounds a no-hitter. He issued his only walk in the fifth inning to Reds outfielder Jay Bruce. The only truly hard-hit ball, a line drive off the bat of relief pitcher Travis Wood, was caught by rightfielder Jayson Werth.
Rollins made two solid plays, making one throw from deep in the hole at short and scooping up a ball that ticked off the mound and changed its angle.
But Halladay was the story. He got through the heart of the Reds' lineup in the seventh, then got three outs, including two strikeouts, on just seven pitches in the eighth inning. When he came out for the ninth, the crowd was on its feet, rally towels fluttering. With each out, the stadium shook.
Ramon Hernandez popped out to Chase Utley. Miguel Cairo hit a foul pop-up toward the third-base side. Wilson Valdez drifted under it and caught it with two hands, as if it were a baby dropped from a burning building. That brought up Brandon Phillips, the Reds' speedy leadoff hitter.
Phillips hit a ball that traveled no farther than his bat. Catcher Carlos Ruiz made the best defensive play of the night, ending the game and the suspense by throwing Phillips out from his knees.
Ruiz rushed out to hug Halladay. Ryan Howard, who caught the final outs of both of Halladay's 2010 classics, stretched his big arms and embraced them both. Soon the rest of the team was celebrating near the mound.
A fan held up a sign, "Welcome to Doctober." Halladay's wife and kids celebrated in the stands. Fireworks filled the South Philly sky.
Roy Halladay, one of the greatest pitchers never to have pitched in the postseason, had delivered one of the greatest postseason pitching performances ever.
"You want to share things like this with family and friends," Halladay said. "My family's here, and I feel like my friends are on the team."
He made a few million more friends Wednesday night.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Before you start using aerosol hairspray, let’s try and figure out if anyone can actually live on Gliese 581g.
Here’s the first problem with the new, potentially habitable Earth-like planet just discovered by astronomers. The name. No one’s going to schlep all their stuff to a place called Gliese 581g. Before that sinks in, we need to change the name to something catchier – like “Mars.”
Gliese 581g is about three times the mass of Earth. It’s closer to its star than we are to the sun, but its star is a slow-burning red dwarf, so it’s unlikely we’d be cooked right off it. It sits in what astronomers called the “Goldilocks Zone” of the galaxy – the place where conditions are just right to ensure a supply of liquid water.
We can think of Gliese 581g as our special nest egg, our survival back-up plan. Once we ruin this planet (and rest assured, that’s as good as done), we now have a destination in mind. This is about as likely as you saying, “Once I’ve totally trashed my mom’s basement, I’ll move into Buckingham Palace,” but dreams are important.
However, it’s also important that we understand the sacrifices we’ll be making on Gliese 581g. You’re going to have to give up certain things in order to breathe the (possibly deadly) fresh air. Here they are:
• Your current life: Gliese is 20 light years away. That’s about 190,000,000,000,000 km. That’s a lot.
The fastest man-made object is the Helios 2 space probe, which can travel at 250,000 km/h. The upshot – it’s going to take 87,000 years to get there. So you won’t be moving planets, although if you’re super-talented, some form of DNA goo that resembles you might make it there in a petri dish.
• Jogging: Gravity is a crap-shoot on Gliese. But in all likelihood, once you leave the house, you will either be crushed as flat as a crepe or go spinning off into the ether. Neither of which is much of an aerobic workout.
• Skin: Like the moon, Gliese always shows the same face to its star. So one side is bathed in light – and likely baking hot – while the other side is swathed in darkness – and likely freezing.
Either way, your epidermis is not going to cut it. So prepare to start every day with some variation on this ritual.
• The novelty of your birthday: Gliese rotates once every 37 days – which means “hump day” on Gliese is going to last longer than July.
Coincidentally, that’s also as long as it takes Gliese to orbit its star. So one year is also 37 days. That means it’ll be your birthday every day at 3:30 p.m. And no, you don’t get to take your birthday day off.
The next time you spot an oil slick, resist the urge to light it on fire, no matter how much fun that seems like. Sounds like we’re going to need our beater of a homeworld for a little while yet.
Or will we?
“The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common,” said one of Gliese 581g’s discoverers, astrophysicist Steven Vogt.
Whew. Awesome news. No need to rush. So. How long were they looking before they spotted Gliese 581g? Three days? A week?
Actually, 11 years.
No word yet on the rumour that Prof. Steven Vogt has been en
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